Support our operations in 2017 as we plan for regular hours and new exhibits to serve our community
Updates about the move to the new museum and research center.
We are working on unpacking boxes and filling up the shelves in the research center.
Notice the horse head on the wall over the safe, the research center is located where the stables were during the firehouse years.
We Met The Challenge!
Last November the T. Kendall Hunt Family Foundation donated $100,000 and challenged the Historical Society to raise and additional $100,000 which they would match. The Matching Challenge ended June 30th with a total of $132,650 having been raised! We appreciate everyone's generosity and can't wait to reveal a finished museum and research center.
Click to see a list of our donors.
Watch Frank Lipo Give a Quick Tour of the Progress at the Firehouse
Click on the image to watch the video on youtube.
We are in the final weeks of the $100,000 Challenge
Help us meet the goal by June 30th.
Click on the image to donate to the New Home for History and join our list of generous donors.
Largest Gift in its history will finish renovation of old fire house into new museum
The Historical Society of OPRF receives $200,000k donation from Oak Park family; $100,000 in 2015, $100,000 in 2016 when community matches second $100,000.
OAK PARK - Nov. 23, 2015 - The renovation of an 1898 fire house into a 21st century museum to serve Oak Park and River Forest is rapidly moving towards completion thanks to a $100,000 donation to The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest by Patricia and Kendall Hunt on behalf of the T. Kendall Hunt Family Foundation.
The gift was announced Nov. 19 at an event attended by more than 150 people at the new museum at Lake Street and Lombard Avenue in Oak Park. The building is in the midst of a $600,000 interior remodeling that has seen demolition of non-original surfaces and obsolete mechanical systems and the installation of new green geothermal HVAC system, a new roof, a new fire sprinkler system, new plumbing, and new electrical systems. The building is owned by the Village of Oak Park and will be operated on behalf of the sister villages by the Historical Society under a 30-year lease with a 20-year option; all the improvements to date have been funded by private donations raised by the Historical Society. The building will be opened to the public in phases in 2016.
The $200,000 gift is being structured in two parts. The first $100,000 is a 2015 gift which was just recently given to the Historical Society. The second $100,000 will be donated when the community matches that amount in new donations by June 30, 2016. When the gift was publicly announced on Nov. 19, $10,000 was donated towards the match that night, getting it off to a great start.
The Historical Society is in the midst of scheduling the balance of the electrical work, a new fire alarm system, drywall installation, and wall, ceiling, and floor finishes. The community is being invited to make donations in memory of their family members and earmarked for specific lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, and flooring options. Details are on the Historical Society's website www.oprfhistory.org. Heritage Tile of Oak Park will generously donate much of the new tile work for the building and other local businesses including Lake Theater and McAdam Landscaping have been supporting the project with donations of material and skilled labor. Oak Park artist Chris Ware has gifted the Historical Society with a new poster design that shows the new museum, then and now, and which will be sold to benefit the project.
The Historical Society had raised enough money to complete the project before it started construction in late 2014, but the State of Illinois froze two public museum grants that were awarded in two competitive statewide grant cycles. The future release of that funding remains uncertain but if received will reimburse the Historical Society for specific expenditures like HVAC and fire protection.
"Many of our members and the community at large have been on this long journey with the Historical Society to transform a vacant and dilapidated 19th century fire house into a 21st century museum," said Executive Director Frank Lipo. "We could not have gotten this far without this support and the partnership with building owner the Village of Oak Park. Ultimately, this will be the entire community's museum, where our stories can be told from the distant past up until today. Our community's rich heritage needs to be understood and examined and our fascinating stories from the earliest days until today deserve to be told in a museum of high quality."
"The Hunts have challenged us to raise an additional $100,000 by June 30, 2016, which they will match, dollar-for-dollar. That means your $500 becomes $1,000. Your $5,000 becomes $10,000. Your $100 doubles to $200," said Lipo.
"These additional funds will allow us to complete the project in a timely way and not sacrifice quality fixtures and finishes," Lipo said. "It also will allow us to plan an orderly, phased move from our 45-year home in Pleasant Home to the renovated facility beginning by the middle of 2016."